McArthur seeks assurances over geese numbers

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has sought assurances from Ministers about future plans to manage geese numbers in Orkney.

Mr McArthur used portfolio questions this afternoon to call on the Rural Affairs Secretary, Fergus Ewing to lend his support to efforts at finding ways of extending the adaptive goose management programme to deal with the impact of growing numbers of greylag geese on crops and farm land in Orkney.

The Orkney greylag goose adaptive management programme, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), was introduced in 2011 with the aim of enabling local people to control the resident greylag geese population.

In response to Orkney’s MSP, the Cabinet Secretary said he had “no hesitation” in agreeing to encourage SNH, NFUS and all parties to find a solution to what he recognised is a serious problem in places like Orkney.

Commenting, on the exchange Mr McArthur said:

“The adaptive management programme was successful at least in halting the dramatic rise in greylag geese numbers in Orkney.  Since it came to an end, however, there appears to have been a worrying return to the sort of trends we saw from 2001 onwards, when the population was estimated to have grown fifteen-fold.

“The impact these sorts of numbers have on crops and arable land can be devastating, while there is also a potential risk of knock on consequences for other bird populations.

“I welcome Fergus Ewing’s agreement to urge SNH to work with the local farming community and other partners in Orkney in identifying a solution that can help address this problem in the longer term.  I know that SNH is actively exploring options and look forward to seeing these emerge in the near future.”

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